Archive for the ‘Technology and other crimes’ Category

The dire month of January is speeding by–February awaits with biting cold or possibly balmy warmth, but either way it will soon be past, making way for March. The older I get (and this year I turn 70) the faster the time goes by, and though I attempt to welcome each new day, it is more of an effort that it used to be.
But let us not whine and moan, for heaven’s sake! Here we are in this pleasant land–not living in some ghastly prison camp, not cowering while bombs drop, not held at the whim of dictators–and there are MONTHS before taxes are due.

So show a little respect.
The lame disgruntlement you may sense from the lines above derives from an unsuccessful attempt to disable my ancient computer before tossing it on the dustheap of history. Having left it in the corner as I triumphantly installed my SHINING NEW machine, I finally decided the old hulk was no longer needed, so plugged it in to remove the files.
It would not turn on, not if it was ever so.
Something of a blow.
HOkay, no problem, I would simply remove the hard drive and dispose of it! I readily removed the side of the machine, and was able to dabble in its innards–but as for removing anything, NOT HAPPENING. Welded in, it seemed. One could have smashed it with a hammer–which perhaps, come to think of it, I should have done. Instead, I had a pleasant time snipping all the cords and spraying water all over what remained. Then, I inserted what was left in a garbage bag and tossed it in the bin.
I am now feverishly changing all my passwords–and I have A LOT of passwords–in readiness for the thieves and dastards who troll garbage dumps for computers, who will dry out and rewire the ancient machine and RETRIEVE ALL MY DATA.
Though that does sound pretty unlikely, actually.


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After having my bedroom painted, a novel thought occurred–why just hang those same old pictures on the wall? Time for a change! I have a large store of artworks created by my own fair hand in my angel infancy–why not frame a few of these and replace the so witty and amusant kitsch that had previously adorned the room? So I took some deathless art in hand and dashed off to the local frame shop in my neighborhood mall.

Of course, what was I thinking–it was after 6. Tough shit for those poor jerks who don’t get home until 5:30.

So, the next evening I carried the same pics with me on the way to my ballet class–because, guess what, there is a Michael’s Craft Store in Silver Spring, and if I bustled with extreme briskness, I could drop off the articles there (AND have the job done for probably HALF the cost) before class. However, I had to be SWIFT, so as not to be late for class.
I nipped into Michael’s and found the frame shop. A lovely young black man with adorable curls framing his lovely face came to help me to choose the perfect frames. GREAT, found–except, now we must find the perfect mat. I was very ready to choose whatever mat they had. Off white? GRAND, make it so! But it appeared that Michael’s had bought some very fine software, to show me just how my artworks would look in my chosen frame and mat, and the charming youth fired up the camera and computer to demonstrate.
Meanwhile, I could feel time slipping by.
It turned out the software was not quite so swift to launch as one might wish. Also the adorable youth had forgotten his password.
WHAT of that! I had FIVE minutes to spare! Trying hard to be patient, I let the lad continue with his artistic notions.
Suddenly that fine scene from Love Actually, in which Alan Rickman (Harry) is trying to swiftly buy a gift for his girl friend before his wife notices, from artistic sales person Rowan Atkinson (Rufus) came to mind.

Rufus: [gift wrapping a gold necklace] Let me just pop it in the box. There.
Harry: Look, can we be quite quick?

Rufus: Certainly sir. Ready in the flashiest of flashes!
[he ties a ribbon around it]
Rufus: There.
Harry: That’s great.
Rufus: Not quite finished…
Harry: [Rufus pulls out a plastic bag] Actually, I don’t need a bag, I’ll just put it in my pocket.
Rufus: Oh this isn’t a bag, sir.
Harry: Really?
Rufus: This is SO much more than a bag…

Finally I told him I HAD TO LEAVE, and he graciously allowed as how I might return later to complete the fabulous project.
So, I left. When I returned an hour and a half later, he had mastered the software, and managed to print out a bill.
What we suffer for art.

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Yesterday I inadvertently took part in a Major Scientific Experiment, in which Leaving For Work Without a Smartphone OR an Ipod (or Similar Device) is Studied As it Affects a 68-Year Old Suburban Woman. Despite totally supporting scientific inquiry and all the benefits it bestows on mankind, I own that my first reaction on discovering the part I was to play in this experiment was horror, followed by grief and then rage. Ultimately, a numb indifference prevailed.
The initial theory posited (= she will rush back to the house to retrieve the articles, and take a later bus) was not supported by the experiment. Instead, as I mentioned, numb indifference. Had the river been closer, there might have been some movement towards a Great Notion to Jump in the River and Drown, but it wasn’t and in any case, the day was chilly.
WHAT a week for ups and downs it’s been, comrades! Why, the day before this dread experiment I had been exulting in a Grand Triumph! I had actually programmed a new garage door remote control! Oh, I know that these days a child–what am I saying, even a clever cat–can program a remote with one hand (or paw) tied behind its back, but for ancient grannies, it is a terrifying challenge. HOWEVER with the aid of a mouldering wooden step ladder and my strongest spectacles, I managed this feat! Huzzah! My heart beat high, I can tell you.
Only to be cast down the next day as described.
Well, well, today seems to be going fairly well, but I’m not making any bets on its continuing that way.

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My brave little car–not as youthful as all that, but then, neither am I–began to puff out warm air when I requested cool. So what, right? It’s not as if we were trekking over the Sahara. Our forebears didn’t have air conditioning, and they did very well without it. I was resolved to be STRONG!
OH yes.

After one trip in 99 degree heat my resolve faltered and failed.
So, I dropped off the unsatisfactory vehicle at the garage, requesting the bold garageurs to dribble in the magical encoolment liquids in the fervent hope that it would fix the problem.
Of course, it didn’t.
The garage lad called me to say that the compressor needed to be replaced. And his boss recommended that I take the car to the dealership for the operation.
Sigh. Every trip to the dealership results in a giant hit to the bank account.
Of course, there ARE free bagels in the waiting room! Not to mention, free coffee and free WiFi!
So there is that.
Wiping away my tears, I turned back to work.
When, another call from the garage! It turned out that the lad’s boss thought he was referring to the OTHER Mini Cooper in their care–a much newer model than mine. My Mini, being so antique, is amenable to the ministrations of non-dealership mechanics. So, they could replace the compressor! AND, they had the part. It would only cost….an enormous amount of money. But LESS than it would have cost at the dealership!
So I told him to make it so.
On the way home, I stopped into BestBuy to buy a new laptop. YAY! Spending money like drunken sailor!

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Last night I exulted! I had managed a technological triumph!
See, I was looking for a way to safely download music from YouTube so I could, you know, play it locally.
NOT STEALING it, I hasten to add. Just borrowing it. I pay for 2 music subscriptions but neither had the particular tunes I wanted, and I did NOT wish to download some nefarious app (and its sly hitchhikers of evil infection) for the purpose.

There are a million online suggestions on how to accomplish this, and it took some time to come up with the winner: record the content using Audacity, a free sound program which I am very familiar with, and have had for years. HA! A few bejiggerments (=technical term) were necessary to allow Audacity to hear the music, but then Bob was my uncle, so to speak. I glowed with accomplishment!

And then poured myself a wee celebratory glass of wine and went to watch Game of Thrones.

This involves something of a complicated procedure, but to a Queen of Technology such as myself, piece of cake:

  1. Turn on the receiver.
  2. Turn on the projector.
  3. Click the screen remote controller to make the mighty 10 feet of screen roll down from the ceiling (a majestic moment).
  4. Click the home button on the Roku remote controller
  5. Scroll over to HBO NOW, click the icon to start the program
  6. But what horror was this? NO GAME OF THRONES.
  7. Panic: went to the search function.
  8. Searched on Game of Thrones–NOT THERE.
  9. Searched on Thrones, Game of–NOT THERE.
  10. Rage, Despair.

I spent the next hour–which I had planned to spend lounging on the sofa watching Lord Tywin Lannister murdered on the privy, thus bringing Season 4 to an end –passionately slamming the keys on my computer, signing into Roku, signing into Verizon, signing into HBO. Eventually I wrote a VERY STERN email to HBO and punished them by refusing to continue my subscription (which ends tomorrow anyway). HA! That gave them some hint of my displeasure, I believe.

However this evening before completing the cancellation I thought I’d try it one more time, and what do you know—there was Game of Thrones.
So, I watched 2 episodes, and quietly resubscribed to HBO.

Sometimes technology is unknowable.

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Keeping up the elaborate garden technology that my darling left me is challenging but I keep trying, and at least it has not yet failed completely. Following is Scientific Procedure for Fixing Broken Device.

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Having determined that Roku worked LIKE A CHAMP, I unplugged the initial tangle of cables, neatly coiled them, tidily wrapped each one in a little cable wrapping device purchased exactly for that purpose, replugged each into its proper place, and then settled back to watch the next Installment of Nasty People Killing Each Other.

But LO!

Nothing worked.


First I thought, Roku LIKES its cables to flap about in wild abandon, the way Hex, the thinking machine in Terry Pratchett’s Unseen University, likes the ant nest and sheep skulls AND the teddy bear.

So I undid all my careful work: Be FREE little cables!

Still nothing.

Then I realized that the giant antique receiver was playing an elaborate hoax.

When I set it to ROKU, it was really going to: OLD MAC THAT NO LONGER EXISTS.

When I set it to FIOS TV, it was really going to Roku.

When I set it to Roku, it was really going to FIOS TV.


The problem is simply that I don’t speak the lingo.

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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